Rains v. Stayton Builders Mart, Inc.Annotate this Case
This was an action brought by an injured construction worker and his wife. A defective board broke. Plaintiffs Kevin Rains and Mitzi Rains obtained a judgment based on claims of strict products liability and loss of consortium, respectively, against both the retailer, Stayton Builders Mart, and the manufacturer, Weyerhaeuser Company, of the defective wooden board. Stayton, in turn, obtained a judgment against Weyerhaeuser based on its cross-claim for common-law indemnity. Prior to trial, plaintiffs and Stayton had partially settled their claims in an agreement that required Stayton to pay at least $1.5 million in damages to plaintiffs, but capped Stayton’s liability at $2 million. Weyerhaeuser appealed, alleging numerous errors in trial court rulings. The Court of Appeals agreed with Weyerhaeuser that the trial court had erred by refusing to apply a statutory cap on noneconomic damages to plaintiff’s claim for strict products liability and by refusing to require Stayton to discharge its liability to plaintiffs before Stayton could prevail on its indemnity claim against Weyerhaeuser. The Court of Appeals, however, largely rejected Weyerhaeuser’s remaining arguments, affirming the trial court’s decisions: (1) refusing to dismiss Stayton as a defendant for lack of adversity after it had partially settled plaintiffs’ claims; (2) refusing to admit the partial settlement agreement in evidence at trial; (3) failing to allow the jury to allocate fault to the general contractor, Five Star Construction, on the verdict form; and (4) refusing to apply the statutory cap on noneconomic damages to Mitzi Rains’ claim for loss of consortium. And, although the Court of Appeals deducted some of the expenses that Weyerhaeuser challenged in Stayton’s award for defense costs, the deductions were small, and the Court of Appeals largely upheld the trial court’s calculation of Stayton’s defense costs. After its review of this matter, the Oregon Supreme Court affirmed most aspects of the Court of Appeals' decision, but vacated with respect to the parties’ assignments of error concerning the statutory cap on noneconomic damages based on Article I, section 17, of the Oregon Constitution. Those assignments of error were remanded reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court's decision in "Horton v. OHSU," ( 359 Or 168 (2016)). Furthermore, the Court concluded that ORS 20.220(3) required the general judgment in favor of Stayton against Weyerhaeuser awarding defense costs to be reversed, and as such, reversed the Court of Appeals to the extent that it was inconsistent with that conclusion. The limited judgment for indemnity in favor of Stayton against Weyerhaeuser was reversed, as was the general judgment in favor of Stayton for costs on Stayton’s indemnity claim against Weyerhaeuser.